Arctic Cultures & Wilderness: Svalbard & Greenland
A combination of ‘Jewels of the Arctic’ + ‘Greenland Odyssey’
Departure Date: 23 Jun 2024 – 22 Jul 2024 | 30 days
Departure/Arrival: Longyearbyen, Norway – Toronto, Canada
Voyage code: SVG001S
Voyage type: Expedition
Ship: Sylvia Earle
Price: from AUD $51,095 (Aurora Stateroom Superior)
Call us on 1800 637 688 for full pricing and special offers!
Thank you for joining Aurora Expeditions on our Arctic Cultures & Wilderness expedition.
Combining our Jewels of the Arctic and Greenland Odyssey voyages, you will be on the lookout for Svalbard’s enigmatic wildlife before exploring the east coast of Greenland, a land of grand superlatives. Hike among colourful arctic tundra and encounter some of the most remarkable, colourful geology you will ever see. Sail Prince Christian Sound in south Greenland, home to the Viking ruins of Erik the Red. In the west, stand in awe at Ilulissat’s icefjord, a parking lot for enormous icebergs calved from the largest ice sheet in the northern hemisphere.
- Search for arctic wildlife, including musk oxen, polar bears, arctic fox and arctic hare
- Experience the world’s largest national park in north-east Greenland, and the world’s largest fjord system, Scoresbysund
- Visit Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the world’s remotest Inuit towns
- Marvel at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage-listed icefjord at Ilulissat
Aurora Expeditions operates in remote and challenging environments, and in the spirit of expedition travel, we encourage you to adopt a flexible and adventurous attitude when joining our voyages. This itinerary is a guide only and is subject to change due to weather, sea state and other conditions beyond our control.
On this voyage, we visit remote Inuit hamlets and settlements, where the local Inuit people still practice traditional hunting methods including whaling that some people may find confronting. If you find yourself feeling upset and disturbed by what you see, please alert a member of the expedition team immediately, who will do their best to address your concerns and take action to mitigate the problem, wherever possible.
Having made your way to Longyearbyen, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. Upon arrival at your included hotel, please visit the Aurora Expeditions hospitality desk to collect your luggage cabin tags and to speak with our ground operations team, who may have information to share with you about pre-embarkation or to provide you with information about where to dine, withdraw cash or purchase last minute items from a local pharmacy or supermarket.
The remainder of your time is at leisure. All meals today are at your own expense.
Accommodation: Funken Lodge (or similar)
This morning, your luggage will be collected from your hotel and transferred directly to the port for sanitisation, clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please ensure that your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Any valuables or personal items should be kept on you throughout the day. Enjoy breakfast in the hotel before joining your fellow expeditioners on a guided city tour of Longyearbyen.
On the drive to Camp Barentz, located in Advent Valley, your guide will give you an introduction to Longyearbyen’s fascinating history. Once at Camp Barentz we enjoy a presentation in the large ‘lavvo’ – a traditional building common in northern Norway. You will also have the opportunity to meet the friendly huskies and perhaps pick up some souvenirs. A visit to the Svalbard Museum is included back in town before embarking the vessel in the late afternoon.
After the tour, you will be transferred directly to the pier to embark in the late afternoon. Settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings and enjoy the thrill of departure as we ‘throw the lines’ and set sail.
This evening, get to know your fellow expeditioners and our friendly Expedition Team and crew at the Welcome Dinner to celebrate the start of a thrilling adventure.
Svalbard offers arctic wilderness at its best. The members of our experienced Expedition Team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to tailor our itinerary, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, sea-ice conditions and opportunities for wildlife encounters.
Phenomenal fjords, magnificent mountains ranges, and a polar desert rich in fossils set the stage for heroic tales of early exploration. See walrus hauled-out on sea ice or on beaches. On land, we stretch our legs on walks across tundra carpeted in brightly coloured wildflowers. We visit towering cliffs noisy with nesting guillemots and puffins, and scree slopes that hold Svalbard’s largest little auk colonies. Most memorable are encounters with the majestic polar bear on pack ice. Your Expedition Team is just as keen as you are to find them and they will be on constant watch to spot these inspiring creatures.
If you have chosen an optional activity such as kayaking, you will have an opportunity to enjoy that activity when conditions allow. For those who are enthusiastic to participate in a polar plunge, as soon as conditions are suitable, you will hear the announcement to prepare for an exhilarating dip – a memory you will savour for years to come.
As we sail towards the coast of East Greenland, we may encounter whales feeding in the rich waters of the north. As we approach East Greenland, be prepared to encounter more pack ice and perhaps spot seals and a variety of seabirds, including the northern fulmar and Brünnich’s guillemot.
The strong, icy currents have isolated East Greenland from the Polar Basin, attracting large numbers of fish, seals and whales. Climatic conditions and the concentration of ice in the vicinity often create thick morning fog that only vanishes in presence of the midday sun. Our experts will inform and entertain us with fascinating discussions on plants, animals, ice and heroic tales of exploration.
In the coming days, a host of choices are available to us, and depending on ice and weather conditions, the east coast of Greenland is ours to explore. Our experienced Expedition Team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to tailor our itinerary on a day-to-day basis. This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and encounters with wildlife. We generally attempt up to two landings or Zodiac excursions per day, including cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales feeding near the surface.
Be prepared to experience ice – and lots of it! East Greenland contains some of the Arctic’s most impressive scenery. Deep fjords and narrow channels, flanked by sharp ice-clad peaks soaring up to 2,000 metres (6,562 feet), and glaciers birthing gigantic icebergs that drift throughout the fjord system, combine to create breathtaking scenes.
The tundra landscape is home to musk oxen, arctic hare and reindeer. Throughout the area there are ancient Thule archaeological sites, historical trappers’ huts, and the cabins of present-day Inuit hunters. A highlight is a visit to the Inuit village of Ittoqqortoormiit, the most isolated and northernmost permanent settlement in the region, with approximately 450 inhabitants. The community has an excellent museum, gift shop, an abundance of Greenlandic sled dogs and provides the opportunity to meet the friendly locals.
Explore Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord and a favourite hunting ground of the local Inuit. Massive glaciers flow into this fjord, the birthplace of hundreds of majestic Greenland icebergs. It is a spectacular place that simply needs to be seen to be believed. North of Scoresbysund lie Kong Oskar and Kaiser Franz Josef fjords, two of the most significant fjord systems in Greenland, each one encompassing several smaller fjords and sounds. Thanks to the fertile volcanic soil and the surrounding mountains offering protection from strong winds, the area is rich in wildlife. You may spot everything from musk ox and arctic foxes to mountain hares, and even reindeer, near the fjord. Look skyward and you could catch a glimpse of birds, including the glaucous gull, black-legged kittiwake, northern fulmar, common raven and common eider.
We will attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system with countless opportunities for exploration, located within the Northeast Greenland National Park. Cruising through Kong Oskar Fjord, we marvel at the geological beauty of the mountains. We will then head south along the coast of Liverpool Land, with our passage dependent on ice conditions.
We stretch our legs on hikes across tundra in search of ancient graveyards and summer villages occupied 3,000 years ago by Inuit. We may see musk ox, arctic hare and reindeer grazing. The maze of calm, interconnecting waterways in this area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking. We will see ring seals, perhaps catch a glimpse of the elusive narwhal, and maybe even a polar bear hunting on pack ice.
Crossing the Denmark Strait to Iceland, search for whale blows and photograph the many seabirds that trail our ship in the ever-present arctic winds.
On arrival in Reykjavik, Iceland’s cosmopolitan capital, our crew and expedition team prepare to welcome expeditioners joining us on our Greenland Odyssey voyage, while you enjoy a day trip to Iceland’s famous Golden Circle. In the late afternoon, reboard the vessel and meet your fellow expeditioners to begin the next part of your arctic adventure around Iceland.
Crossing the Greenland Sea, we sail through the Polar Basin’s nutrient-rich waters, searching for encroaching pack ice, fin whales and seabirds. Our team of experts entertains us with informative talks about sea ice, glaciers, European arctic plants and animals and epic tales of early explorers such as Nansen, Andreé and Scoresby.
Overlooking King Oscar’s Harbour, Tasiilaq (formerly Ammassalik) is east Greenland’s largest town with a population of approximately 2,000 inhabitants. Here, green meadows contrast starkly with countless icebergs that often clog the waterways at nearby Sermilik Fjord, the largest in southeast Greenland, where we Zodiac-cruise and kayak to search for fin and humpback whales and photograph the spectacular scenery
Continue south along Greenland’s King Frederik VI Coast, always on the lookout for whales, especially the rare sperm whale that is occasionally seen here. Weaving through the narrow channels of Skjoldungen Fjord we land at the end of the fjord for a walk along a glacial river, across a tundra valley covered in northern willow and blooming pink wildflowers. Kayakers can paddle across the front of a tidewater glacier, search for harp seals, ivory gulls and whales.
Back on board, enjoy the stunning surrounds with a drink in hand basked in the soft light of the setting sun.
Prince Christian Sound connects the Labrador Sea with the Irminger Sea. Approximately 100 km / 60 mi long, and, in parts, as narrow as 500-m (600-ft) wide, the fjord is flanked by jagged mountain peaks, some reaching over 2,200 m (7,200 ft) high, with countless glaciers coming all the way down to the sea. We slow-cruise through the sound to enjoy the spectacular scenery. Icebergs sculpted into fantastic shapes often block the entrance to the sound, a great spectacle for photography.
At Kangersuneq Qinngorleq located at the northern end of the fjord, a glacier front is ideal for exploration by Zodiac or kayak. in the southern section of the sound, we pass a small settlement named Appilatoq, which means red in Greenlandic, after the red mountains rising above the town. Appilatoq is well-known in Greenland for the jagged mountain peaks that surround it—a delight for photographers.
Known as the ‘birthplace of icebergs’, this region boasts some of the most splendidly-shaped icebergs found anywhere on earth. Hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Icefjord and stand in awe of its immensity. Sermeq Kujalleq, also known as Jakobshavn Glacier, is the most productive glacier, not only in Greenland, but in the Northern Hemisphere. It produces 20 million tonnes of ice each day, all floating into the Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay. Conditions permitting, enjoy a Zodiac cruise at the mouth of the fjord and kayak through sea ice and icebergs.
Optional helicopter flight (90 mins): this excursion is the only way you can get close to the gigantic glacier. The 10-seater helicopter departs from Ilulissat Airport sweeping over hills, lakes and ice fjords. Land on the mountain at Kangia, in the middle of the preserved area, where you can revel in the incredible surroundings. On the return flight to Ilulissat, fly above the edge of the glacier with breathtaking views of the massive icebergs drifting in the fjord. The views of some of the largest icebergs that become stranded on a moraine underneath the water, just outside the town, offers a wonderful finale to this excursion. Please note that this excursion requires a minimum of 8 passengers to operate.
Approximately 4,500 years ago, the Saqqaq culture arrived from Canada and settled in the area. They lived here for approximately 2,000 years, but mysteriously disappeared. The Dorset culture arrived around 500 AD and remained until the 1200s until they were replaced by the Thule culture, and today, most of the population of Sisimiut are descendants of the Thule culture.
Located above the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut enjoys experiences 24 hours of daylight during the summer months. As Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut is the only place in Greenland that has an open-air public swimming pool, and the town is famous for its old blue church featuring a whale jaw gate. The town’s small museum features interesting exhibits explaining local history and life in Greenland.
The local kayak club is the oldest in Greenland and some of the members are among the best in Greenland. You will be treated to a show featuring traditional kayaks.
Today we’ll feast on a taste of Greenland at the lakeside Roklubben restaurant where we enjoy a BBQ lunch, before joining our guided tour to Reindeer Glacier having disembarked for the final time at the township of Kangerlussuaq. Greenland’s ‘ice sheet’ covers 80% of the surface of the country. Reindeer Glacier, which stands as a 60-metre-high ice wall in some places, offers visitors a clear contrast between land and ice. We travel on a tundra coach, looking for reindeer and musk oxen, while we enjoy some stories of the area from our local guide. Once at the glacier we will walk parallel to its edge to discover it many moods and angles.
In the late afternoon we return to Kangerlussuaq airport to board our charter flight to Canada to Toronto for an overnight stay at our airport hotel.
Accommodation: Westin Toronto Airport Hotel (or similar)
- All transfers mentioned in the itinerary.
- One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Longyearbyen on Day 1.
- Sightseeing tour of Longyearbyen on Day 2, prior to embarkation.
- Sightseeing in Kangerlussuaq (time permitting) and transfer to the airport on Day 29.
- Charter flight: Kangerlussuaq-Toronto on Day 29.
- One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Toronto on Day 29.
- Onboard accommodation during voyage, including daily cabin service.
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage.
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner.
- Captain’s Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.
- Educational lectures and guiding services provided by Expedition Team.
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consultation).
- One 3-in-1 waterproof, polar expedition jacket.
- Complimentary use of Muck Boots during the voyage (in Spitsbergen).
- Comprehensive pre-departure information.
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees.
- International or domestic flights – unless specified in the itinerary.
- Transfers – unless specified in the itinerary.
- Airport arrival or departure taxes.
- Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination fees and charges.
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges.
- Hotel accommodation and meals – unless specified in the itinerary.
- Optional excursions and optional activity surcharges.
- All items of a personal nature, including but not limited to alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), gratuities, laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, wi-fi, email or phone charges.
Note: A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or adjust the amount) when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members. This gratuity amount is included for suites as part of their ‘Suite Benefits’.
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Near shore cruises
Walking & hiking
Whale and mammal spotting
Cabins & PricesBrowse our comfortable staterooms and suites below. Please contact us for best pricing and current availability.
Some cabin images of the Sylvia Earle are artist’s impressions only and final results may vary.
Prefer a shorter voyage?
‘Arctic Cultures & Wilderness: Svalbard & Greenland’ is a combination of the 15 day Jewels of the Arctic & the 17 day Greenland Odyssey. View these itineraries below or contact us for more information.